Edward Williams


December 2010

The Distant Shore

——There is sudden luck, a cumulative effect within these pages, which overwhelms every motive, and this the bending author knew when he ventured forth on the theme of his own career.  Doubling back on itself, yet, always starting over in the far off spirit of The Nightbook, that youthful journey into thought I took–I relish the renewed certainly of my existence, and my utterly plain reaction to life.  It is as if to gently suggest that a statement of deep cause will never be comprehended–by anyone less embattled. But now I am so free, I am driven into isolation, answering thought with utterance. automatically upon the first occasion. It is the reflection on achievement that is gained, in this prolonged discussion of the writers’ identity.  In sequence I put my achievements behind me, as if they prepared me for simplicity, laid the groundwork for the building of the big carnival tent, where he, the delegated speaker, takes honors. When your reputation is solid, just so! people will let you go, make to totally ignore you, they cannot help you–but I have remembered and collected various threads of truth.  Justified now with a double victory, having loved all those who even threw him a glance, the little person gains his freedom at last!  Now he is enacting his formal revenge, and spelling it out, a formal apology, and drawing it out. I am willing and therefore shall discuss my own personal history, he says, under the hood of some current crisis. If I can settle on one, we  shall examine it in reference to the universe.  I am over-exposed! Crumbling in anticipation, defiantly I accept the invitation covertly received, to prepare, or put myself on trial.
——I would like to bring in some exhibits, once this trial is set, because my previous accomplishments are pertinent to the question of what I am doing now, or why I am not doing it, now.  Facilely stated, which itself puts in evidence my apparent readiness, and indicates that any worrisome content of my thinking remains consonant with all possible, immediate expressions. If that isn’t clear, nothing is. I am highly vocal, in my patience; I am the recalcitrant voice of absolute hope. No one can outwit me, because I stay within the reverberating circle of my own awareness. It is only an impression that I’m in any way idle. You should better say I am furiously busy.  Either way, it results in a damping down, a mood, in freezing rain, icicles, an onslaught, a series of new convictions. Something is at stake, or remedial action would not be required. The matter at hand has disappeared from sight, and is beckoning–he says to himself; that is why the clock has slowed to a pace that looks like . . . deception! . Or several days have passed like nobody noticed. What is at stake, the matter at hand, is my own redundant awareness. And always, other people are being forgotten about in my deleterious games.
——The person who is yourself is reiterated by this sheer sense of possibility. Ready for travel. It is quite clear to me that I permanently exist, I cannot be vanquished, and working back from that certainty, I imagine that I cannot be countermanded in any vainglorious ambition, either. Standing at attention, receiving assignments, here is one who is willing to wager the existence of his own felt identity, the person inside, his unique mood, right here in self assurance, over and against any theory of humankind. I don’t live, he says, by reference to generalities. I am merely paused under the swinging traffic light. I define myself as ready for action, retrofitted, opportunistic.
——Thus one takes everything as the bracing shape of immediate expectations, promises and wishes abounding in talk overheard, imagination extending inward, and proceeds to articulate it, because everyone is listening. For the future audience, I was recording the beliefs and sayings  around me, and if these beliefs and sayings were loaded already with nostalgia, then they, the others, all might be imagining they are dying. Most people of course don’t die–from the point of view of the one who does, if you see what I mean. Everyday a strong majority is left. Death is a special privilege of the few, around here, I mean families are growing fatter at the stem, the living are bulging in great numbers; and the few who wander off are by and large not missed–in the sense that any part of their used-up existence could have thwarted the redundant flow of new and joyful absurdities.  Do not wag your finger at me, say the living. Still, as for my ever repeating self, I was bending, sorrowful, reflective, as if to summon the few dead in my own sphere. But they were drifting out of reach, as if assembling into a crowd on a distant shore; and out of hearing, so that I could not even imagine hearing them now.


——Of course it is different with me, in that I only write from my thoughts, and only in particular those thoughts I can begin to articulate. So it is originally a very small content base I have, though it tends to aggressively seek analogies, to make neighbors.  And I  leap to conclusions,  I happily wander, and harvest, and collect details, in suspense, that await a context–which, miraculously, may hinge upon the most incidental reflection of all.  This is the story of inspiration.  I am he who thereby owns the entire history of his reflections, should that miracle occur.  But I am cautioned, I don’t even begin to write on subjects that I have no thoughts about.  I restrict myself to my own thoughts--sure, this is quite the obscure way of working, and you might say arrogant basis on which to proceed. But it is honest. I never stand back, but depend upon my own prejudices, for these are internal and if they can be borne out, they get a hearing. I am in charge, as I set out, and then I learn what is possible, so therefore I am determined to be humble. I am always wrong, employed as a speaker, upon that basis. For example, I don’t stand back and write about books I have read, but I write from the thoughts I have while reading these books; and it can surely happen that the book itself is not even mentioned. Everything inspires me in this way, for the opportunity to reflect on its meaning, against the background of pure mystery.
——Sure, it’s kind of rickety, I am focused for awhile, and then only propped up, but I am in pursuit of what can be brought into my thinking, and worked on, like to gain access to that background. I am fundamentally a researcher, that’s probably the simplest way to put it.  I mean, I even watch television shows with great interest, especially I like to watch news shows in the afternoon, repetitive talk shows–but only dramatic thoughts generated will find a place, in the dire commentary I will make. Or I can speculate on the weird television itself, usually in relation to some other basic experience, canning them together,  like in one jar, seeking the synthetic thought that lays bare the skeleton of them both.   Tentative forms of narrative, a story like The Soap Opera Rewind Experience, or impassioned, absurd monologues like People Who Watch Movies, are always headed somewhere, stranger than life, from which they appear to have been drawn, as if part of a larger mystery. I am always working on the same thing, always the same explorer.  I do not write about what I know, but precisely I seek the other direction; I seek to find out what I don’t know, in this process which has me enthralled. Half the time, more than half the time, I am running from my own thoughts, but anything I have lingered over, found pleasure in scuttling into language, is going to gain such favor that it longs to become part of a larger book, and I have learned that topics in isolation will often yield their own field of play. And I have learned that it is up to me to pursue these associations, and build the literature.
——But it is most important to point out that not everything gains entry. From my point of view, hardly anything is even expressible, for I only talk about what I can clearly articulate. And since the category of interest is my own thoughts–well, only what I see as  truly my own thoughts, as incontrovertible, is going to get put down.  Or what is rightfully ambiguous!–I should include that too, the expressible which is yet unresolved, as if ringing in the annals of the language, that is here too.  And yet, one might say this is a slim basis of operation. And yet again, I am swamped with work!  My difficulties at the outset are enormous, but my labours are often refreshing, they are comical, they are so prideful and entangled with such a set of personal, procedural rules. It seems that way, doesn’t it? But this is my brilliance, that I isolate and only choose to talk about what I can really,  you might say effectively talk about. No matter how skimpy, how traceable to my own personality, how blushingly obvious, even–I figure this is my job to render.  And what I mean by effective is not in the cheap sense of being viable communication. It is in the sense of being able to achieve coherence, relatedness among the aspects of my scattered meditations; effectively, I am building fictions that are truly original. That’s right. What I can make coherent, I will, and of course this is from my point of view, I have no consideration of readers, certainly at the point of construction, even more certainly at the point of inception. Although maybe at inception I am in a discussion with someone, or a multitude of voices; but at the point where the text is most clear, that is where I am most forlorn of readers, surely. That is where I achieve the true result, the triumphant obscurity, and effectively am ready to publish.
——But then again, this talk is in the nature of exploring the topic deeply, or imaginatively,  so I am often confused, if you want to know, and I suffer, impale myself upon all bad outcomes, wade through every swamp the imagination can provide, and my writing is at every stage until the last quite provisional, for, you see, it explores only the possible meanings that can be foisted off on life, and then, out of what seems like an antique sense of honor, only presents what is possible to say clearly.  Of course then at the last my writing is defiant, and threatens to be significant. My writing entails, for the reader, a series of suggestions, which are so earnestly expressed they seem like finalities. But these only arose in the writing itself, having finally emerged concretely in the phrasing.  That is the only place, there is in fact no reference.  My writing is the only case of itself, and it has rolled up the carpet.  It is truly original, that bears the awkward repetition. It went through this process, of starting in the thoughts of the writer himself, and chosen by the writer as culpable for expression, and then building upon the expression, to find further possible realms, for what can only be made of words. A refinement, the pure fiction of expressible thought.
——-Of course, this is just simply not writing at all in the ordinary sense, but it is some kind of unparalleled creation, escaped of its origins.
—— For the author is stranded, and only writes to save his thinking. He collects images and uses them as his subject matter.  Especially those that are susceptible . . . to a literary rendering. This seemingly most expressive author is actually only talking about a portion of what he has pored over and then sifted, but he is obsessed–or better yet, I should say, he has trained himself over the years. The language has indulged him, and so far does the language continue to indulge him, that realms of thought are reached once the writer has crossed that barrier,  where language informs thought. There is the content which is utterly unique, which only he has received. Now it is in this form, and the disputes must begin–not only as to what has been said, but why in this manner, and if this language is merely tentative . . .


——The fact that there is a mystery, and the fact that that you live in it, are two different things. Unless they are married in thought and action. Your life is wasted, if you aren’t deep in this travail.  Maybe you think the universe just isn’t understood, because men are incapable of understanding it. And maybe you think where you live is around the corner from the mystery, in some self-sufficient neighborhood, that isn’t in itself affected by the universe at large. So by these two neat reflections you have removed both the general mystery of origins, and the particular mystery of your own existence.  To phrase it: how did you arrive, in a confusion?  Well, it still remains, no matter how anyone wrangles, that there are two situations any living person is confronted with, at least initially in their experience. First, that the origin of life is unknown to him, and second that he is alive. These are different things. The witness is convicted at least of noticing briefly a situation that has two elements. Comically put, life in general, and himself. To acknowledge them in the same breath, or two successive breaths, is to call in a debt to the creator of both. I say, because it isn’t simple, therefore a story is outstanding.  Some flicker, some discrepancy remains and insists that there is a background problem with life, and that you, you precisely, are in the center of it, like a hero, or a goat, summoned to solve it, or flub it. One way or another, sliding through on the basis that you are not equal to the task, won’t work. For you are the task, just standing there, looking at the world.  Life is high stakes drama, and also it is low down desperate maneuvering.  I could just be enthusiastic, one thinks, and that strangely satisfies . . .  two things at once. Don’t tell me you aren’t this subtle, and can’t acknowledge a basic complexity–one shoots this accusation to others. Do what you want, this is the prideful basis upon which I work–by pure enthusiasm, and it is calling down a debt, you might say cashing out a debt. This is ambiguously phrased, isn’t it? It is clear to me that I am doling out the goods, paying back library fines, so to speak, for always going on record, signing up, taking an interest, in the situation. The child starts up, he is deep in pure mystery before the challenge of assessment-minded thought clicks in, like an adult supervisor, and gives him pause. Don’t doubt life! Screams the person. You have nowhere else to go, with your plans.  I move towards it, the faraway solution, deep in neglect. I shall abandon my sinning ways, now that I understand what is really going on. This is the plot, the curve of the story. What is kept in mind is a potential heist, the central character of myself, he is the sidekick. Parts of this game that I am wagering are so profound, so funny that they just have to last beyond all reckoning.  I am not living around the corner, but I have built my house in the center of the mystery. Look at my porch, the floating chessboard, and snow-bound gardens. Seized by the cold, and twilight, the impossible street beyond.  Nobody has these images, nobody ever saw this before. I need to circulate my thoughts. Here, read these pages, look at these photographs. Everything is in process around here.

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